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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  May 18, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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tavis: first up, a conversation with singer-songwriter k.d. lang, next month she kicks off a tour supporting her new cd. afterwards, daniel dae kim. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance
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supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: please welcome k.d. lang to this program. she is out with the critically acclaimed new cd called "single allowed -- sing it loud," with her band siss boom bang.
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>> ♪ now i know that letting go was -- again and again and again i confess, i need you badly hold me in your arms and loved me madly ♪ tavis: i cannot resist, k.d. lang, so i will say it one more time, siss boom bang. how did that come about? >> well, we recorded it around independence day. when this group of individuals walked into the studio, it felt
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like fireworks. i played the record for my best friend. she listened for a few days and said it starts off like day k.d. lang, then siss boom bang, the band kicks in. tavis: is that how the process works for you when you are working on a project? you know it is write when you hear it? >> yes, pretty much. i can feel what ever it is i need to find. tavis: your best friend said it starts off like a k.d. lang record, for those of us who have enjoyed your work, you have done some different things -- tony bennett, roy orbison, how would you describe this one? how does this fit into the discography? >> this is part of my satire side, kind of cocky, a little bit of country coming out.
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obviously, the voice shifts might different nomadic self. this is like touching down on the earlier part of my career. know, it feels new at the same time. >> i suspect that when you are traveling and in the car somewhere, every now and then you hear "a constant craving," come on the radio. when you hear this song all these years later, what do you think? >> well, i am excited. i am one hit wonder, let's face the facts. that's ok. it is exciting. i remember the time when it was a hit and all of the flurry of activity that surrounded that record. it was an intense time in my
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life. tavis: as a song, this holds up for you? >> yes, it does. siss boom bang does a killer version of it. tavis: you said that you were a one hit wonder and that is ok. tell me more. are you serious about that? if so, how have you come to reconcile this? >> i am a one hit wonder. i have had more than one song that has made it to radio. 27, 28 years into my career at this point and i still have an audience and i have the good fortune of talking to you. things are good. i have a good record company. tavis: how do you navigate that journey? and you say these things and they flow off of your lips with ease like nothing troubles or bothers you. you say that so calmly. you said, there is only one song
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on the radio. you are ok with that. how do you create a career when you only have one song that has made it to the radio, whatever that means these days? >> how i'd do it is that i follow my instincts and then make sure that when i make music that this is something that i feel good about. i try to make music a part of my life, not my entire life. i tried to approach it with integrity and happiness. tavis: does that integrity start with the song lyrics for you or do you mean something else in your music? >> no, i mean the motivation, what motivates me to make music. tavis: what does motivate you to make music? >> the fact that i'm a musician.
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i have often said that it is like being a fruit tree, lemon tree, i make apples, that is what i do. if i decided that i was going to make oranges, it wouldn't work. tavis: has the process of getting out what is being you artistically, has that process for you changed? >> yes, that has changed. it boils down to motivation. i think over the years i've learned to not be so concerned with the end product but being more present and more enthusiastic about the process. also really the letting -- letting the music moves through me. there is something when you kind of eliminate the intellect from
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the process where it just starts being more natural and flowing, not so arduous. i don't know, this is natural. tavis: right now, you have me thoroughly confused. a few minutes ago you said you had a great record company. that is a beautiful thing be here because a lot hate their record company. they want to get out of their contracts. it is good that you like them. then you said that you are more into the process at this point in your career and that is my concern about the end product. it is not always fit. the record company is most concerned about the end product. you are in this space. you put this stuff out, it is not necessarily go to radio, but you are cool with it. how do you make that work? >> i tried to make sure that my live show, i give 110%.
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when i record, i give 110%. i am lucky. i am lucky that i have a record label that is interested in art. the artistic nature of the music. and packaging and delivery of the work. nonesuch records, this is an amazing roster. to put know, i just try out good -- i put out quality stuff, i guess. i don't know. tavis: i love asking the several artists such as yourself, for you, for k.d. lang, what makes a good song? what makes a good song? >> well, it is a combination of obviously bill lyrical content and the music. a good substantial content in
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lyric is alternate. -- it is a combination of obviously good lyrical content. this does not have to mean it is clever or deep but it has to be true. it has to be delivering something that is the pith of truth. something that you can really say. this can be abstract but it has to have truth to this. melody is really really important. tavis: melody is almost nonexistent these days. >> it is. that will change, obviously. i think that music is cyclical, a pendulum, whatever. it moves, we focus on roof, we focus on melody. it goes back and forth. -- we focus on groove.
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tavis: how much do you love this band? >> i love them so much. i am like a gushing girl pant and maybe one of the boys. it is right in the middle. -- i feel like a gushing girl. maybe one of the boys. tavis: i have not had the honor of seeing you live on stage. what is that like? what is a k.d. lang show like? >> it depends on the record. this is a lot different than the other record that i did with a symphony. i don't know. i don't really know what it is like. i have never been in the audience. tavis: [laughter] >> i pray that it is whatever the individual listener would like to be. i give them what they are looking for. tavis: i hear she puts on a
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great show. you should check route sometime. >> i will try. -- you should check her out some time. tavis: today was the first time, actually last night in going to the research for our conversation today, that i learned what k.d. stands for. it occurred to me, that actually stands for something. i went looking last night and i found it. why did you go with k.d.? >> what my home town called me was cathy. i don't think that i look like a cathy. i wanted something more androgynous, i think. something more direct. tavis: there it is. k.d. lang, ladies and gentlemen, with a new project
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with siss boom bang band, "sing it loud." pleasure to have you. >> thank you. tavis: up next, former "lost," star daniel dae kim. daniel dae kim stars on the top of the police drama "hawaii five-0." here now, a scene from "hawaii five-0." >> the serial numbers on these bills do not match the stolen money which means that you are trying to cover for your own clothes. >> they disappeared years ago. they don't exist. >> actually, they do. after it was robbed, they kept waiting for you to spend the money. we figured you were not being careful so we had the asset forfeiture division put out that the inventory records had been
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lost. >> which was a lie. >> if you thought that you could not trace the serial numbers, maybe you its start spending the money. that never happened because you never spend it. >> you got your money back. let this go. tavis: i grew up a huge fan of the original series. i watch it on reruns when i can catch it. when i heard that they were going to do this, i did not think it was going to work. the track record of trying to redo stuff in this town is not always work so well. you with the first person they cast for this. tell me why you signed on thinking that it could in fact work. >> i think you are right. the track record and the history of hollywood is littered with attempted remakes. there were reasons i signed on. the first one is that the craters of the strong had a strong pedigree. -- the creators of the show had
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a strong pedigree. they had made things i was fans out. because there are no guarantees, you have to stick with the people that give you the best chance. when they started putting together the cast and i started really the script, i thought this was something else. anytime you try to do a remake you have to honor the original while updating it for today's sensibilities and the script did a good job of doing that. tavis: why do you think that it would it? i was wrong, you were right. we have that 80 murphy training places for one. -- eddie murphy trading places for one. why is this working? >> some of the things we talked about, the strength of the stories are a big reason for that. i think that the casting is a good choice. this is not a typical crime procedural, it actually goes
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into the background of the characters and actually goes into some comedy as well. it has the familiarity of a known brand name. tavis: the character that you play, are you happy with the ark? >> i am happy about that. one of the things i am proud of on the show is the amount of actors of color that get regular work. the fact that you have 50% of the cast of asian american descent is pretty groundbreaking. week to week we have at least two or three actors of color on our show and that is something to be proud of. i hope that is one of the reasons for its success. as far as character development, i am happy with the way things are going. it is at its heart a crime drama. we can never lose sight of that. the amount of exploration that my characters had have been
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really satisfying. >> back to your adulation, your happiness, i say about the actors of color getting an opportunity on the show. how has that played into the choices you have made in terms of playing certain characters and turning other characters down based upon stereotypes? >> this is been one of the biggest criteria on choosing a role to play or not. this is inescapable. in our business, it is inescapable that your parents has an effect on how people judge you. -- your appearance has an effect on how people judge you. i've turned down a fair number of roles because i thought that this was the character was not something i wanted to represent. you have to be careful. most people are sensible and they don't make judgments based on my character they see on television but there are others that kind of see one representation and then start to think that every one of that
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color is like that. i'm aware of that. it is important to me to work in a positive direction. >>tavis: if i had a dime for evy time i talked about the treatment or the maltreatment of black folk in hollywood, i would be independently wealthy. what never happens is a treatment or lack there of about asian-americans in hollywood because this is trumped by the black white discourse and hollywood. i wonder whether or not it was to celebrate people of color because this is in hawaii or there is a larger issue that you're raising because you think that people of color are getting more respect across the board in hollywood. >> i think this is a great question. >> they are intertwined. i think the fact that we are set in hawaii almost requires actors of color to be a part of the
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show. >> friends did not have any black actors. >> you would think it would be requirement and if you look at past television shows and movies, there are incredibly white washed versions of chicago, new york, los angeles that don't reflect what you see when you walk down the street. those are definitely intertwined. i'm happy that we live in a climate where even though the representation is not where it should be that the studio executives and producers can say, this is set in hawaii so that we can have actors of color on their, tavis: the flip side is whether you are over having this conversation and you look to the day when a guy like tavis smiley will not be raising this issue because this will not be
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discussed. >> i think that is the goal. it comes up because it is still an anomaly. once it becomes the norm, then we will never have to ask these questions. it is not that i don't think that we should ever not be aware of race and gender issues in society but i don't think that we are there yet but one day we will be. we will have a conversation and bet a dollar on something else. tavis: i will not lose another dollar to you. i saw you at the white house correspondents dinner and i have told you did some of the political stuff in washington. tell us about your story and how political you really are or at least were on your recent trip to washington. >> i was invited to correspondents dinner. tavis: that was your first time? >> yes. it was a small intersection between hollywood and washington. tavis: this is an eclectic
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gathering, isn't it? >> it really is. it was being called the nerd from when i was there. it was really great. especially given what was about to happen the following day. putting it in that context, it was really special to watch our president joked and laughed around and give a funny speech all the while knowing that there was perhaps the most serious hours of his presidency about to take place. tavis: what did you make? how funny did you find the obama donald trump comments? >> i felt like it had the potential to be a lot more comfortable. i felt like these kinds of situations are one where everyone is expecting to get ribbed. everyone in the spotlight will take a few licks. i thought there could have been more room for a sense of humor, let me put it that way. it was pretty clear that the
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jokes were hitting the audience and the audience was responding pretty well. this is a light-hearted occasion and i think that if everyone would have kept that in mind, it would have made it even more fun. tavis: do people that you know and hang out with in hawaii, have you used that word that is new ones from the rest of the mainland in this whole birther nonsense? >> that is a good question. my predominant experience of this whole thing is in a white parent of a majority, the overwhelming majority of people are supportive of the president. we all know that you get a certificate of live births and you get a short form so this is not that big a deal.
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we accept that is currency. i guess it is not that way on the mainland. in a weird way, it was highlighted the difference between hawaii and the rest of the states. tavis: you are one of us. >> exactly. tavis: what else did you do in washington? >> well, i had privilege of am saying an event for an event called apac. -- emceeing an event. people in washington love acronyms. the acronyms are so long any acronyms for the acronyms. tavis: [laughter] >> it was a night where we are honoring all of asian-americans and public service. again, like entertainment, i
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feel that representation is an important issue. historically, asians are not involved in politics in america. to be able to participate in at night where we were celebrating those that are is special. tavis: back to the dollar that i owe you. how hopeful are you about the future of "hawaii0?" >> we are in a state of flux all the time. things are changing a lot. there is always room for good quality entertainment. if you can throw in a little bit of interesting character work and some social issues, i think you have the recipe for something that will stick around. tavis: you have the right stuff. i think you will be around for awhile. >> thank you for having me. tavis: daniel dae kim of "hawaii
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five-0." thank you for watching. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: join me next time for a financial expert and actor harry shearer. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by
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kcet public television]
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belonged to your grandmother, right. yes, it was her ashtray, actually. - her ashtray. - her ashtray, yes. it was on her bedside cabinet. goodness me. what an amazing ashtray. - do you think that's what it was made for? - i have no idea. it's got a few stains on the back. looks as if it might be some nicotine - that's crept in there. - and it seems terribly uneven - and crude. - yes, remarkably crude, isn't it? yeah. so i suppose you thought it might just be a bit of old junk. - i hadn't really thought. just a quirky item. - you hadn't really thought. and did you notice this in the center? i had noticed. it looks like an anchor of some sort.
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an anchor, yeah, that's exactly what it is. it's the mark of a chelsea factory. - chelsea? - chelsea, and chelsea porcelain is amongst the earliest porcelains produced in this country. - is it? - indeed. so its crudeness is really a symptom of its early date. this was made between 1749 and 1751. chelsea in london. so i can just picture granny sitting in a smoke-filled bedroom stabbing out her cigarette ends on this delightful little thing. - how on earth did it get to be there? - i really have no idea. a mid-18th century piece of porcelain amongst the earliest pieces made - in this country? - you surprise me, really. she was well traveled, the old lady, but she had a couple of shops in the london area, especially during the blitz. they were news agent shops. maybe someone bartered her or bartered her for it or paid a debt. - newspaper bill or something. - exactly. it was copied by the chelsea factory
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from a much earlier piece of japanese porcelain in what we call the kakiemon style. the piece that it copied would have dated from about 1680. - would it? - so although this is mid-18th century, you could regard it as a fake. but because it's chelsea, because it's early, because it bears this rare early mark, it's worth £1,000. £1,000? - for an ashtray? - for an ashtray. granny's ashtray makes £1,000. as an interesting aside, the 1680 japanese original, which this is copying, would only be worth £200. - so it's a measure of how special... - you surprised me. ...and how rare this piece of porcelain is. £1,000.

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